By Rachel Thomas
At this point, if anyone other than Ryo had been responsible for Two’s last-minute salvation, it would’ve been downright disappointing.
Ryo sees it as a straightforward swap: the Raza gang value Two more than the Blink Drive, so it should be an easy choice for them! Right?
(It’s kind of heartwarming, if you think about it. No? Just me?)
Teku’s adapting to life as emperor’s handler well, and pesters Ryo to not delay meeting with his generals. The conversational lull lets Two get her hands on a sword. (Sword fight! Sword fight!) The brawl, although quick and not entirely elegant, is quickly interrupted by an explosion. Misaki swoops in to save her emperor, and takes a bit too much pleasure in revealing that the bomb was set to go off 20 minutes into the meeting with the generals.
In other words, it was meant for Emperor Ryo.
Back on the Raza, Android reveals that it was the FTL-capable Marauder of Portia and Boone. Ryo calls, inviting them to dinner. In the aftermath of his invitation, Three, Six, and Five clash over what to do—Six and Five believe they should take him up on the offer, but Three would prefer to solve this problem at the business end of a pistol.
Ryo has a policy clash with Commander Neiman. He then clashes with Teku—man, Ryo, you’re clashing with everyone these days. Keep it up and you’ll have no friends. Teku suggests he adjust his focus away from making an example of the perpetrators and towards finding the root cause. The Raza crew agrees to come to Zairon—on one condition. They get to use clone bodies.
Misaki escorts Ryo’s ‘guests’ through Zairon. Six and Misaki have a little heart-to-heart, and Misaki—not at all creepily—reveals she killed Nyx. Six is fundamentally unsurprised. Teku greets a surprisingly excited Five, who explains she has some of Ryo’s memories. He smuggles (in broad daylight, so…) Five to Two, giving them privacy. Two is baffled to find there is no plan, but Five argues that getting bogged down in theoretical situations will only impede their dealings in reality.
On the Raza, Android inserts her upgrade to find a simulacrum of Chase. Unfortunately, he’s gotten the Evil Upgrade—talking about the overthrow of human rule.
Ryo and Three have a glass (well, two glasses, in Three’s case) of Japanese whiskey over some frank talk, gentleman-style. (Well, Ryo drinks the whiskey; Three inhales it.) Ryo says that he’s prepared to kill Two, and all of them, if necessary. He’s too far in at this point to give up. Ryo then offers him a secret as a kind of gift. He explains that after he got back his memories, he started avoiding Three because he didn’t want Three to ask about Sarah.
In short and sad form—Sarah saved him, but he was unable to resist his old ways, and began to steal Serillium. Serillium that poisoned her slowly, over months alone. Three was, in that way, responsible for Sarah’s death. Three holds it back, but we can see strain in his eyes.
Five goes for a chat with Ryo, who tells her a short story about a gift from his grandfather long passed-off as a rare token. He tells her he missed her, and Five replies that she missed the ways things used to be. She asks him why he cast the deciding vote to keep her on board, and she asks why. He says he saw potential in her, and that she could be calming for the crew. He then reveals that she has a sister—ahhhha. Ryo explains that she invited her sister to visit her, but something happened that prevented them from ever meeting. He shows her a photograph, but we don’t see what it is…
As Android has a startlingly philosophical debate with Chase about the subjugation of human, and machine, kind, Six approaches Ryo. He appeals to their past history, and his words seem to have some effect on he-who-once-was-Four. Ryo’s still carrying intense guilt from Nyx’s death, and it seems that may well be a driving factor. Six offers the Blink-capable Raza to Ryo, noting a strange jitteriness in the wine-pourer’s hands. Ryo rejects this offer as insufficient, and Six knocks the cup from his hands. The would-be assassin attempts to flee, but the guards are already there; he declares he serves the people of Zairon, and slits his own throat.
Misaki, like a fairytale stepmother, prevents Teku from going on his evening walk by ordering the palace under lockdown. Their conversation darts around the fact of the matter, and Teku seethingly informs Misaki that he is not her enemy. She replies that it remains to be seen.
The five former crewmates sit at a table, and Ryo jestingly enjoys the good company. He offers them 30 million bars—enough to comfortably retire. To everyone’s surprise, Three almost immediately accepts—and Five agrees. Ryo offers them something to sweeten the deal—a secret or four. For Six, he lets him know that he was actually ratted out by a fellow member of the GA.
Misaki informs Ryo that Pyr forces have launched an attack, driving their ships into retreat. She points to Teku as a suspect.
(I mean, we know she’s framing him, right? She’s obviously framing him.)
Teku approaches Two and informs her that there’s a coup is going under their noses. He lets her know that there’s one thing he wants in return, and points them towards Ryo’s war room.
Ryo, stung by Teku’s apparent betrayal, orders his prisoners executed. Misaki claims she’s captured Teku as he attempts to flee, and brings Ryo into—an empty room. Oh. She tells Ryo that he won’t find Teku there—only death. Oh…
Ryo seems disappointed, but not surprised. Misaki cracks her neck as Ryo dispatches of her underlings, and they duel.
Six, Five, and Three make it back to the transit pods, and Three hurries them into the pods ahead of him. Burdened by the memory of his role in Sarah’s death, he allows his clone body to be shot and reawakens on the Raza.
As they duel, Ryo asks Misaki through gritted teeth what she did with Teku. Misaki replies he’s off hiding, and unsheathes her poisoned blade. With a jab she gets the upper hand. Only moments from being poisoned, Two arrives, breaking up the duel, and stabbing Misaki with her own poisoned knife. She saves Ryo—’keeping a promise’, as she says.
Our gang reconvenes on the Raza. After some quick future talk, Android announces she’s finished tending to ‘his’ injuries. Three suggests it’s counterproductive, and that they just space Ryo—but the rest of the crew summarily rejects this idea. Android, memory of Evil Chase’s words still lingering, looks on quietly. Two asks her opinion, and Android, somewhat uncomfortably, replies that while her emotions lead her to view Ryo with sympathy, logic and the needs of the crew dictate that they eliminate the threat. They are then presented with a stalemate—should he stay or should he go—and Two’s the deciding vote.
Ryo’s doing the classic Supervillain In Glass Box pose, but he doesn’t show any signs of breaking out. Two enters, and Ryo asks if they debated his fate. She says they did. He offers to do it himself, but Two refuses. He takes the news of his impending death well, and notes that Two wears her ‘crown’ well. Ryo informs her that she has a child—a hybrid of her and Irena Shaw, entrusted to someone who would raise her until Two could return for her. He gives her all the information she’ll need to learn more, and says that he knows it changes nothing—it’s simply an apology. His final gift to her.
Still shocked, Two disarms the force field, and lifts her pistol.
(We know from the previews he doesn’t die. At least, not then.)
I’ve been rooting for more Ryo-Raza Gang time since the beginning, since I have an inexplicable soft spot for him (I like burdened rulers who make bad decisions, okay? sue me), and this episode did not disappoint. And while I remain uncertain about that cutting edge in Teku’s voice when he described himself as not Misaki’s enemy—surely he knew she would turn traitor?—this episode was a great, satisfying salve to the Four-shaped hole in my heart. Seeing the characters working together—almost like clockwork at times—to pull the narrative weight of the story was incredibly rewarding, especially after some of the more fragmented (or character-based) stories earlier in the season.
Personally I felt that the Android-Chase-downfall of anthroparchy storyline really needed more time to expand—maybe an entire episode—or an entire season—but as it was, it linked up thematically with the events on Zairon and connected very nicely at the end when debating Ryo’s fate.
Or, as I said a few paragraphs ago…well.
…no, but for real, what’s the deal with Five’s sister? Is Five’s sister Two’s daughter? Is she Misaki? Is she Commander Neiman? Is she one of the black goo inter-dimensional aliens? WHAT IS SHE?